I Love You Even Now

March 29, 2012

schedule_7_3605602491When my sister and I were kids, we played a game: “Would you love me even if I looked like this?” and at the “this” we would break out into the weirdest wildest craziest facial expression possible. We’d do it over and over, each time surprising the other with how extreme we could get. While the point of contorting our faces was to bring us to the brink of peeing-in- our- pants hysterical with laughter, that game has always held a gem of truth to me, the kind of wisdom kids point to without trying.

Unconditional love is hardly at the forefront of our culture’s philosophy. Many of us have forgotten it is even something to reach for. Popular psychology today trains people to focus on the “good” and turn away from the “bad”… to affirm the best in us and rise above the “worst,” to stay ”positive” at all cost. This requires us to maintain a continuous relationship with the conditioned mind, forever labeling everything in our lives as good versus bad, acceptable versus non acceptable, holy versus unholy. What a lot of unnecessary mental work.

What if we simply chose the ease of embracing it all? What if, rather than residing in the mind of good versus bad, we let ourselves relax fully into the heart… the field of present moment and all-accepting awareness that is always available to us. The heart welcomes every aspect of us, whether he/she meets the standard, doesn’t meet the standard, or outshines the standard triumphantly. Who cares? While the conditioned mind is busy judging, discerning, cringing when our bad face shows up, and striving to maintain our “best,” the heart simply meets all of it with a relaxed, solid, unwavering YES. “I see your goodness and I love you no matter what.”

I’m writing this blog from my new home in Portland. I am sitting in a café with a soft scarf around my neck as rain drops hit the ground outside, enjoying the aromatic scent of coffee even though I only drink tea. I arrived just 5 days ago, and while I had put a great deal of time and care into packing and journeying north, I had forgotten that a move is traumatic. They say that the top 2 traumas in people’s lives are the death of a loved one and a move to a new place.

I guess I forgot this and was caught off guard to wake up on my first inspired morning here to aching grumpiness. “I don’t want this”, I said to myself, a strange almost primal degree of resistance I am unfamiliar with at this point in my life. Like an internal 5-year old whose primary body language involves digging in her heels, the message was, “I don’t like this! This is uncomfortable! What have I done?” But this was not an ideal time to be visited by the grump. People had been waiting for me to arrive. There were dinner invitations and meetings and some degree of expectation that my adult self would be available.

This was a humbling reminder that sometimes we get triggered in the most inopportune moments. Years ago I might have been concerned. “You’d better snap out of this mood fast.” But by now I know that grumpiness is no cause to leave the field of love, nor is any other emotion. By not pushing this part of me away, in other words, by simply allowing this emotionally contracted part of me to have her experience as she uncomfortably settled into new soil, I gave her the space she needed (2.5 days) to adjust. During this time, I was able to hear what transition stirred up from her depths… and the energy was allowed to moved through.

This experience reminded me of how relaxing it is to live in a world where all of me is welcome (literally, to my new home in Portland)… and I affirm my ability to offer that to others. Just as we work in external relationships and partnerships, we also work with a team inside ourselves. Do we want our relationships – inside and out – to be based on “conditional love” (only IF and when you meet the standards?) or do we want them to be based on the fierce wholeness of “I love you even now.”

When we dis-identify from our thoughts and emotions, we have the opportunity to “be with” whatever arises in a way that honors it. We learn that we can walk into any situation FREE of the filter of judgment (that immediately assesses what we like and what we don’t in ourselves and in others) and simply be OPEN, curious, willing to stay present trough the happening of our experience, the unfolding, rather than engaged in the conditioned conversation in our heads.

Through practice, we develop the trust in ourselves to meet joy or turbulence, challenge or good fortune, with ease, breath by breath, one step at a time. We develop an unwavering commitment to our hearts…solid and gentle and sturdy enough that we can say “I love you no matter what” and know that this is so. Unquestionably, undeniably without hesitation.

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